In 2021, artist Emil Gregersen (1921-1993) would have turned 100 years old, and Vendsyssel Museum of Art is celebrating this with a focus exhibition where a large selection of the artist’s works from the museum’s collection are presented.
Emil Gregersen made his debut at Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling (the Artists’ Autumn Exhibition) in 1946. Like many other artists at the time, he was preoccupied with modernist, simple expressions in art. Gregersen’s focus were especially on arrangements, views, contrasts, and asymmetry.
In the works from the 1950s, one sees more human figures and to some extent a more expressive painting style. Gregersen was an active and wanted member of the resistance movement during World War II, and the impression of the war also came to characterize his art.
From the mid-1950s, Emil Gregersen became more and more preoccupied with stake and fishing spots, especially with inspiration from southern Italy and Norway. The paintings are a combination of outdoor pictures with interior touches. The images tend to close in on themselves, whereby their primary function becomes to reproduce shape, surface, colour, and space. The stake and fishing ground motifs can be seen as the beginning of the studio pictures that Emil Gregersen painted from the 1960s onwards. The studio pictures were a long time underway. Gregersen painted them over and over; it could take him several years to complete a work. By using the studio as a motif, he emphasizes in a double sense his interest in the painting – the motif is both content and form. Gregersen has also painted his good friend and colleague, the artist Poul Ekelund (1921-1976). Sitting with the photograph of Ekelund and having to transfer it to a studio painting, he said: “What fascinated me first were the lines in the high easel and their relationship to the image surface and the space”. Alongside this focus exhibition, you can experience the exhibition Poul Ekelund: Living creature – Living landscape on the ground floor.
Emil Gregersen was trained as a craft painter and was later a student at Immanuel Ibsen’s painting school in 1943-44. He has made several decorative and architectural works, often in collaboration with the architects Friis & Moltke. These include the Skjoldhøj Church in Aarhus (1985) and Hotel Stavrby Skov by Strib (1967). Hotel Stavrby Skov is an example of a special integration between architecture and decoration, where painted sliding doors form new images depending on how much they are open. In the exhibition, you can see a photo above the text, where Gregersen is working on a decoration: a mosaic in the materials slate, natural stone and smalto for the Business School in Ikast 1965.
Emil Gregersen was a member of the Vrå Exhibition from 1966, a member of Grønningen 1964-70 and then Den Fri Udstilling from 1971. He has been a member of Hjørring Grafisk Værksted (Hjørring Graphic Workshop) and has had a special connection to Vendsyssel with a studio in Hirtshals.